Jewish logic to understand Jewish scriptures
Light vs. Darkness
In order to understand Jewish scriptures one must truly understand the Jewish Logic behind the writing of those scriptures. However, this is a difficult concept because logic is so ingrained in a culture from a very young age and often times individuals have a biased against any other form of logic. This article will attempt to view the different types of logic and address some of the reasoning that exists in Jewish Logic and Philosophy.
Comparison of three types of logic,
1) Western logic – this is also known as step logic, and this is the logic that most of the western world uses, especially English speakers. This logic is lineal. Step A exists and then Step B exists and then to arrive at Step C one has to use Step A and Step B. There is no step C without step A & B. This can also be understood at deductive reasoning. There is also another type of reasoning called inductive reasoning, and this is the when an individual generalizes from the observations they have. Both are directional. According to Western Philosophy they hold that circular reasoning is a logical fallacy.
2) Circular Reason - In this form of reasoning the proposition that needs to be proved is assumed or explicitly in one of the premises. This can also be referred to as begging the question. If A is C, and B is C, then A is B. Although, this seems like a simple mathematical proof it does not work outside the bounds of simplistic mathematics. In other words if John is a Soldier, and Mike is a Soldier, then this would say that John is Mike, and this just is not the case.
3) Jewish logic - Block Logic is a unique Jewish philosophical system. In Jewish logic we say at the G-d is all Merciful, and we say that G-d is full of judgment. Both seem to be at odds with each other. How can two opposing things be correct, both cannot be correct? Individually each premise is believed to be correct. How can something be full of Mercy and be able to have anything else with it. It is full. A cup can only hold so much and if it is full of water then milk cannot be in it. Block logic gives a solution to this problem. If we view that G-d is Merciful as a block of logic, say block A, and that G-d is full of judgment, say this is block B, then we have to find a third block of logic that can reconcile the other previously established blocks of logic. The third block of logic in this case would be that G-d is Almighty.
Example of Jewish Logic: Free Will vs. Predestination
It is taught in Judaism that man has free will and it is taught that man is predestined and all things are written. Certain things will take place in our lives and we have no choice at all. The first block of logic would be that of free will and the second block of logic would be predestination. Can you think of a possible third block of logic? The third block of logic that I propose is that G-d stands out of Space and Time. We have absolute free will and can make all the choices that we need to on a daily basis. However, G-d knows ahead of time what we would chose because he has already seen what we have chosen. Therefore, it is predestined. In fact I would as far as to say that one is dependent on the other. Just a light is dependent on darkness. What is the definition of dark? Is it not the lack of light? Both have to exist because both define each other. I once heard that a definition is not what says what an object is, but what an object is not.
Block logic is but one form of logic, there are several more forms. However, block logic is essential in understanding Jewish Logic.
The introduction to the Sifra says that there are 13 rules of Torah elucidation. It is extremely detailed however the 13 rules are used for exegesis (Midrash). In order to understand the writings of a people one must understand the language, culture and philosophy. How can a modern Japanese man understand Shakespeare if he does not learn of the language, the culture, the idioms and phrase that Shakespeare relies upon. In the same vein of understanding how could we understand the Jewish faith through the ages if we do not understand the Jewish people who have taken great pains to preserve it?